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Reflections on Violence
Georges Sorel
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Reflections on Violence

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  237 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Georges Sorel fervently believed that only the clearest and most brutal expression of class war could effect lasting social change. Sorel was a civil servant who became, at a relatively advanced age, an apostle of what Edward Shils in his introduction calls "the apocalyptic transformation" of society to a socialist regime.

Reflections on Violence, his most important work, i
Unknown Binding, 299 pages
Published January 1st 1975 by AMS Press (first published 1908)
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3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  237 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Nov 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in the middle of having a nervous breakdown. It quickly (and disturbingly) became one of my favorites. It is a book that pacifists and non-pacifists should read alike because it brings up issues (involving tactics) that must be faced.

Also makes you wonder how much the whole 'revolutionary' process actually deceives the masses. After reading this, you will be better equipped to view with suspicion any and all calls for sweeping revolutionary change. Still, it promotes without any hes
Nicole Gervasio
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I don't know why I have such an aberrant affection for this esoteric, polemical book of Western, French philosophy. Georges Sorel, to be blunt, died as a royalist anti-Semite who wasn't too kind to women intellectuals, either.

But there are some truly tide-changing aspects to his Reflections. Before reading them, I had never considered epistemological "violence" as a generative, galvanizing strategy that might disrupt "ideas" unquestioningly inherited from scholars and calcified to such an exten
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(131k words; 3h; WP) Prompted by my old lack of understanding of China Miéville's Iron Council, and an interesting mention in Graeber's Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology:

This was, it appears, because he identified anarchism mainly with the figure of Georges Sorel, an apparently quite personally distasteful French anarcho-syndicalist and anti-Semite, now mainly famous for his essay Reflections sur le Violence. Sorel argued that since the masses were not fundamentally good or rational, it was
Sep 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: PHM4340 - Contemp Pol Philo
Shelves: nonfiction, politik
I only read the sections my prof made me read.

I like Sorel b/c we hate the same things: sociologists, profs, logical explanations, following instructions. The fact that the entire book is based on a flimsy, almost hypocritical theory makes it seem like a waste of time, a heap of outdated rage directed against people who are now dead. So, it makes for perfect curriculum material, but it is relevant, or so my prof says anyway.
James Eardley
Very important read for Traditional Italian Fascist's and not the majority of watered down "Fascist" movements in Spain, Croatia and Italy which have the prestige equivalent to George Clooney's role as Batman in Joel Schumacher's abortive Batman and Robin, wearing a tight camp costume with aesthetics equivalent to that of women wearing men's clothes. As much as i love this book i fundamentally disagree with Sorel's violent hostility to Roman Catholicism and the Patriarchal Family. On the other h ...more
Luke Echo
He does waffle on a bit
May 30, 2017 marked it as to-keep-reference  ·  review of another edition
Gramsci discute con Sorel. Comentado en clase de Filosofía política e historia de las ideas políticas. Clase 9.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a sad fact that this work usually goes unread by every generation. It seems to be the most creative work in the radical tradition since Marx (up to that point). While his metaphysical description of the general strike may not be convincing, his epistemological critique of elites within socialism and hierarchical structures via the inconsistency and façade of their knowledge systems is profoundly rich. His critique of positivism and the way he manages to connect bourgeois scientism with lib ...more
OK, so this was written before Marxist revolution was truly put to the test, and, while this perhaps makes me a weak-spined reformist, the Soviet experience if anything emboldened the case for what Sorel would have condemned as "parlimentary" socialism. This isn't to say that revolution is an impossibility, but I can't think a successful revolution would follow Sorel's blueprint.

Sorel makes some very valid points-- the symbolic value of the general strike, for instance, is very compelling-- but
Yogy TheBear
Aug 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
First I think it is important to give a review by Ludwig von Mises on Sorel: “Although Marxians considered themselves solely interpreters of Marx, one Marxian, one writer, added something and had a strong influence, not only on the small group of his followers, but also on other authors. Georges Sorel [1847–1922] […] developed a philosophy in many respects different from the Marxian philosophy. And it influenced political action and philosophic thinking. Sorel was a timid bourgeois intellectual, ...more
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ended up reading this book when I found it in a give-away library in one of Amsterdam’s social centers. I had heard of the book before, it’s one of those influential classics that probably almost nobody reads. As I’m quite interested in the question of violence for achieving social change, Sorel’s book on the functions of violence seemed relevant. Plus Sorel wrote about the role of myths in converting and motivating people, which sounded quite intriguing. And also the fact that Georges Sorel w ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ya sólo el fantástico prefacio de Isaiah Berlin serviría para justificar esta lectura.
Colm Gillis
This is a famous book by a French thinker of the early 20th century who was the ideologue of the syndicalist movement. Sorel produced a highly original set of ideas which took aim, most of all, at the incrementalist socialism of people like Sidney Webb, what may be called 'parliamentary socialism.' Sorel preceded other revolutionary thinkers like Franz Fanon in viewing struggle as driving, rather than mitigating, human progress, claims which put him at odds with much of liberal and even socialis ...more
Sergei Moska
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. I am usually unimpressed by books about anti-rationalist philosophy, mainly because I find that they tend to degenerate into nonsense at worst, and obtuseness at best. Not so here. Sorel is very clear in his description and advocacy of the use of "myths" in social movements, notably the (anarcho-)syndicalist movement of his time. This is a very fun book to read, and does not require much background other than a cursory knowledge of the Fre ...more
Left Sr
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: revolution
Don't mistake this for dry academic musing for Marxist theory- this is triumphant and bloodcurdling (and a bit bloodthirsty) paean to the powerful, militant, and self-confident proletariat. No matter what parties, politicians, leaders, and cadres have to say (and this book contains many a sly jibe at the various Socialist politicians of his day), Sorel says, the proletariat will win through the sheer apocalyptic force of class warfare. A bracing read, a good cure for leftists infected by pacifis ...more
Vanesa  Damonte
El tema era interesante, pero me resultó bastante aburrido en algunos puntos. No sé si tener que hacer la lectura crítica en un hotel a las 3 a.m. cuando debería estar disfrutando de unas mini-vacaciones tendrá algo que ver con eso. De igual manera, tengo que volver a encontrarme con este libro para el final de la materia, así que ahí le daré otra oportunidad. Y aprobé el trabajo práctico, así que eso suma algunos puntos a favor por el buen resultado de la lectura.
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent Marxist text that contains one of the few functional embodiments of communism in the form of (anarcho-)syndicalism. While some might not fully agree, this is the only way to actually get things to happen. It's a hard read, but it's a good read.
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zaman geçtikçe, iddia ettikleri değil de, onlara nasıl ulaştığına dair kullandığı metodlar sebebiyle giderek sevmeye başladım bu kitabı.
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“For twenty years I strove to free myself from what I retained of my education; I indulged my curiosity by reading books less to learn than to efface from my memory the ideas that had been thrust upon it.” 8 likes
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